NPS Blog

Frugal WOWs: A social media experiment by KLM

In 2010, a team at KLM set out to experiment with delivery of tiny gifts — more demonstrations of commitment and recognition than anything of significant value — to customers who had made public their travel plans via a Twitter posting. For seven weeks, employees of the airline scoured Twitter for examples of passengers about to board flights who were signalling their travel plans. In some cases, Foursquare was the vehicle the passengers had used to communicate their plans.

In each case, once the team identified a passenger, they did a little research. What else could they learn through quick review of their Twitter profile, information they had posted on Facebook, or other traces they had left through public postings. They garnered information that would let them personalize a small gift so that it would demonstrate real interest and be meaningful to that person, in particular.

Once identified and researched, a team member (or two) mobilized. Having come up with a gift idea, they scrambled off to buy the gift—sometimes a gift card, sometimes a trinket, sometimes an upgrade on a KLM flight—locate the passenger in the terminal or gate area, and present the gift.

They captured many of the stories and documented their work in a video available on YouTube, which you can watch below.

This is a great example of a company experimenting to create frugal WOW experiences. At Bain, we often call this a form of “activating Promoters.” It involves creating an experience so remarkable, so out of the ordinary, that it merits telling your friends. Moreover, by choosing people who are active on social media, KLM focused on people who have already demonstrated a high likelihood to share their stories with their circle of friends.

Have you seen other examples of similar experiments? What seems to work best?

(Note: Thanks to Alan Woollam, who brought this video to my attention through Twitter!)

2 Responses to Frugal WOWs: A social media experiment by KLM

  1. Hi Rob, thanks for sending me the link to this….interesting and …maybe a good publicity idea…..but this kind of thing should come after they cover the basics such as really looking after their customers who are experiencing problems due to delays, cancelled flights etc., at least telling people before long flights such as Cairo to Amsterdam (a four hour flight) that they will have no inflight entertainment on specific flights – my last flight I took no book with me as I was really looking forward to enjoying a film while flying, the hostess apologised and gave me a complaint form to fill out – guess what KLM never responded to my complaint. Also having their employees on Twitter completely up to date on normal practices like redeeming vouchers and training them in speedy, efficient response would come first in my opinion. I used their twitter service twice recently and on both occasions got incorrect answers and when I let them know, they did not respond to me. Hence my picking on KLM! :-) They say the “Devil is in the detail!” Businesses need to get the basics right first then move to social media – otherwise social media can sink them!

  2. I totally agree with the previous commenter.
    First get the basic rights.

    They seem to be very busy with their public image not realizing that it’s in the end their customers that will spread the word about their services.

    KLM reacts on public tweets but it took me another public tweet to have them answer my replies by DM.